Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Patience, Patience

Patience has never been my strong suit. Lack thereof is the sole reason I never became a teacher, although I love kids. When it comes to waiting of any kind, I have close to zero tolerance. I take the first parking space I can find, out in the farthest edge of the parking lot. Being on hold on the phone is extremely irritating to me; thank god for Bluetooth and cell phones that have speakers. Trying to get information or place an order on the Internet is sometimes extremely frustrating; when my computer itself acts up, get out of the way. Rumor has it that I dropped my virtually indestructible Dell laptop, twice, broke the hard plastic case and shattered the screen, but rumors can be deceiving.

After trying to figure out United Airline's Mileage Plus program on the internet for twenty minutes, I gave up and called them. I am not twenty-something, but its not the first time I've used the internet or United's website either. Trying to understand their Mileage Plus program should not be this difficult. The first guy I spoke with (Indian accent, of course) could not explain to me the difference between Saver miles and Standard miles. He repeated the same exact sentence three times, as if he was reading from a manual. My frustration level building, I told him I could hear him just fine, but I needed a different explanation, not the same explanation over and over again, which apparantly he was not capable of doing. He transferred my call to his supervisor (same Indian accent, of course), who spoke even more quickly than the first guy. After repeated tries, during which I asked him to speak more S-L-O-W-L-Y so I could understand his heavily accented English, I finally understood the point he was trying to make in answer to my question. And just to be sure I understood, I asked him for an example. With actual numbers in it, as it payment in numbers of miles. After 45 minutes of trying to figure out their mileage plan, United and I were finally on the same page. It shouldn't be this difficult!!!

I am all frustrated out for the day. I can't take any more frustrating tasks. So, I am going to put my laundry in the dryer and go out for a walk. Booking the actual flight? That's a task for another day.

Old MacDonald

Most of us who are over fifty and grew up in the US are familiar with the kiddie song, "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". After talking to a few friends, I have a new refrain - "Here a blog, there a blog, everywhere a blog, blog".

Yes, it seems like just about everyone is a "blogger". Everyone writes all of a sudden, which has got to be good for improving writing skills in this country. But writers need readers, and therein lies the rub. It takes a lot of time to "blog", on top of working, parenting, grandparenting, and taking care of Mom and Dad, not to mention housework, yardwork, and occasionally catching up on the news. Just where do people find the time to write in their own blogs, and then read fifty others, just so fifty others will read theirs?

I don't think anyone reads my blog. OK, I take that back. I do know that a few people read my blog. But most of my readers (save one faithful twenty-something blogger friend) are over fifty, and do not write blogs themselves, so I do not get feedback on what I write, which I must admit all writers crave, even me. For some reason "Blogger" has made it difficult to post comments for non-bloggers, as most of the time non-blogger comments do not post but get stuck in cyberspace. (Comments made by those who have a blog on Blogger get posted immediately and easily.) Since there is no easy way to contact anyone at Blogger, at least no easy way that I have found, it is impossible to report the problem, let alone get it fixed. I have a sneaking suspicion that the folks who maintain Blogger want to keep it that way, so that more people join Blogger and set up blogs so that they can not only read other people's blogs, but comment on them. And soon enough, guess what? These new Blogger users are setting up their own blog site. (Yes, indeedy, this is what happens. Its contagious.) More blogs created, more hits for Blogger's blog site, more advertising money for Blogger. (Getting an account on Blogger is free, so they must make money someplace, and I'm guessing its in advertising.)

So there you have it. Soon blogging will be as common as newspaper columnists once were. Move over Dear Abby. The new generation is coming through.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I watched the movie "Milk" for the second time last Sunday.

I moved to the San Fransisco Bay Area when I was 25, young and naieve, in January of 1978. Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as the first openly gay elected public official in the country that same month. This was headline news. In November of that same year, fellow supervisor Dan White shot and killed Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in what appeared to be premeditated murder. The murders and the subsequent trial were news in the San Francisco Chronicle for a long, long time. Dan White got off with a few years in prison and his defense became famous as the "Twinkie Defense".

As we were watching the movie on TV, my housemate remarked that things haven't changed all that much from 1978 regarding gay rights. She's right. Thirty years later, we as a country are still debating the gay issue. Gay people probably have more rights in general than they did in 1978, but in most states, they still cannot marry. The gay rights issue is constantly on the ballot. Each year we hear the arguments For and Against. Marriage should be between a man and a woman. All people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be allowed to marry and thereby be conferred with all of the rights and benefits of marriage. Vote for gay marriage; vote Yes on Prop X. Vote to repeal gay marriage; vote Yes on Prop Y.

Growing up Catholic in the 1950s, I was brought up with the notion that gay people could be "fixed" psychologically and that sex between same sex couples was wrong. Growing up, I didn't know any one who was gay and to this day, am not aware of anyone in my family who is openly gay.

I have played soccer with gay teammates. I have worked with gay colleagues. But I never had any gay friends. Intellectually, I believed that gays should have the same rights as anyone else, and not be discriminated in housing, jobs, or even marriage. I thought, as long as they aren't hurting anyone else, who are we to deny them their lifestyle? Who are we to judge?

Then, one day, things changed. My housemate of two years suddenly "announced" she was gay by bringing a gay lover into our household. Each of us was a single parent with a ten year old boy. This, I thought, was unfair, and confusing to my son. Without any warning, all of a sudden I had a gay housemate. A few months later, she left to move in with her new lover. I was angry at her, not for being gay, but for keeping it hidden from me and asking me to automatically accept this new facet of her personality.

And then, one day, several years later, things changed yet again. I met one of my teenage son's closest friends. I had heard a lot about Jen from my son, Sean, who loved technical theatre, designing and building sets. She was two years older than Sean and a mentor to him in all things technical. She was an artist, a very funny person with a warm personality. The first time I met her in the high school auditorium, she walked up the aisle to meet me with a wide grin on her face and said "Hello, Sean's Mom!" and threw her arm around my shoulders like I had known her all her life. I met this wonderful person, who also happened to be gay, and who was a large part of my son's life. I knew, right then and there, that I wanted the best for Jen.

I can't say that I have a lot of gay friends or even know very many people who are gay. But the younger generation is more open and accepting. My nineteen year old niece's best friend from high school is a gay guy. Another niece who is still in high school has openly gay friends. It is more acceptable now for young gay people to be out rather than closeted and less likely to be targeted for bullying (although bullying still happens). We have more openly gay elected officials, more role models for young people.

We still put gay rights laws on the books, and then repeal them a year or two later. It will take a generation or two of young people with open minds, who have met and become friends with other young people who just happen to be gay before our attitudes change enough to make the gay issue a non-issue. Maybe then we'll stop changing the laws every other year..

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smart Cars

I love my new Prius. It gets great gas mileage, has great visibility, a tight turning radius, lots of storage space and I can park it almost anywhere. Driving a Prius, I feel like I am doing my part to help the environment. In addition, I got a great deal on a used 2005 Toyota with only 60,000 miles. So, what's not to like?

Well, I saw an accident late this afternoon in my quiet suburban neighborhood. The speed limit in the neighborhood is 25 miles per hour. I didn't actually see the accident happen, but I must have driven by just a minute later. It happened at an intersection. When I drove by, neighbors were already out in the street, checking the accident victims and calling 911 on their cell phones. The two drivers were still in their vehicles. The driver I could see as I slowly drove past appeared dazed, if not semi-conscious.

The two cars T-boned, as one driver tried to make a left turn and instead hit the front left side of the other vehicle. The front of the car that was hit was pretty much totalled; the front right bumper, grill and headlight of the other vehicle had crumpled, but the rest of the vehicle seemed to be OK. The car that was hit was a small car; the one that hit it was a large SUV. At least one of these vehicles must have been going much faster than the speed limit to incur such significant vehicle damage.

Seeing this accident made me think twice about my purchase of the Prius; my previous car was the much larger and heavier Honda Accord. In an accident, a SUV might damage the Accord, but not to the extent it would damage a Prius.

The cute, tiny, fuel efficient Smart Cars are a great idea. Smart Cars are a great idea for cities, where parking is such a problem, and for doing local errands. But I don't think I would want to drive one on the Freeway; if a SUV hit you, your Smart Car would look like an accordian.

But what if everyone drove Smart Cars on local streets in their neighborhoods in the suburbs and in the cities? Then the weight ratio would not be an issue. What if there was a separation of trucks and cars on the freeways? I think that would make me fell a lot safer driving my Prius.

Friday, March 26, 2010

True Forgiveness

A friend said to me recently "Forgive but do not forget". I am trying to determine if this is truly possible. Although it applies to friendships as well as to "relationships" between lovers, the context in which it was spoken applied to lovers.

I am curious - how is this possible? Or maybe a better question is WHEN is this possible? (If there are any readers out there, your responses are being solicited here. You can email me if you cannot post a comment on this website.)

I remember a college boyfriend who I had split up with, who persuaded me to drop the guy I was seeing at the time and come back to him (which I foolishly did). Then he dumped me about two months later, somewhat unceremoniously (by writing me a Dear John letter). The passage of thirty years has given me the perspective to forgive him, and to totally forget about him, but thirty years is a long, long time.

I have long since forgiven my ex-husband for whatever character flaws or behaviors that helped drive a wedge between us. After a few rocky years post-separation, Jim and I are now the best of friends.

But a more recent relationship estrangement has left me puzzled. He is a really nice guy, but we just don't see things the same way. I blame him for leaving me and he blames me for changing. I wanted him to stay and work things out; he chose to bail out when things got tough. Having become friendly with some of his family members over a period of some three plus years, I would like to have a friendly relationship with the guy. But I'm having trouble getting past the forgiveness part, since he's the one who dumped me.

Its been a year since we split up. How long will it take me to be able to forgive him for dumping me? Is there something I can do to speed up the process, or do I just need to let time heal my wounds in due course?

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I don't like keys, and I am pretty sure that the feeling is mutual. While it smacks of Big Brother watching over my shoulder, I would much prefer fingerprint or retina recognition instead of keys, whether the keys be metal, plastic, or electronic.

You see, I've been locked out of my new house not once, but twice over the last two weeks. I was rescued each time by my wonderful neighbor across the street,who jimmied the backdoor lock (great security, no?) and who must wonder how on earth I ever held a job. I now have several "spare" keys hidden in various places in the backyard lest this unfortunate incident happen again. I have also lost the keys to my rental car, which they tell me will cost me $400 to replace. For keys? Yes, for keys, the electronic type that open your car door with the push of a button. Never mind that I actually have a metal key that not only starts the engine but also opens the door and trunk, I have to pay for losing the fancy electronic gadget, unless I can find that gadget in the next 24 hours.

Thirty years ago, when I came to the California Bay Area, my husband at the time and I never locked our doors. I don't think we even owned a key to the front or back door. We might have been a little unusual, even thirty years ago, but those are innocent bygone times. My brother-in-law, who lives in a very nice neighborhood in a suburb of New York City, in Westchester County, has had tools and other items stolen from his yard in broad daylight, including most of the house shutters he was in the process of painting. He should have locked them up in his garage while he went down the street to the hardware store for more paint. It is a sad commentary on our society when you can't turn your back for five minutes lest your shutters disappear.

Unfortunately, there is a need for locks in today's world. That being said, due to my recent and costly habit of losing of keys, I would be happy to use a fingerprint or retinal key system. I am pretty sure I cannot lose my fingers or my eyeballs, but lately, anything seems possible.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I used to have the San Jose Mercury News delivered to my house. That was "before". Before I sold my house. Before the economy went into the toilet. Before I lost my job. Before Knight-Ridder sold the flailing Mercury News. Before, as in "many years before". Or, as in the beginning of many a fairy tale, "a long, long time ago".

Instead, during my pseudo-sabbatical, I am now taking long morning walks to Starbucks. Once there, I order a cup of extra-hot water and peruse the New York Times and the Mercury News. Front page only, so I don't wrinkle the paper for whoever actually buys it. On very rare occasions I will see an article I want to read all the way through and actually buy the Times. Yesterday was such a day. I bought a copy of the paper, to read the entire article written about how the people of Haiti are doing now, a few months after the earthquake. (Not so well, it turns out, for those of you who haven't read the article.) The story continued on page six, so I turned to page six and finished reading the article. And there in all its ironic glory, on the opposite page, page 7, was an ad for the Annual Shoe Sale at Nordstrom's. Photographs of expensive women's shoes, in rows six or seven across, and six or seven down, in all their fabulous shiny, high-heeled, sling-backed glory.

The dichotomy was startling, and the contrast between the two was stark. Did the editors juxtapose the article and the ad on purpose? If there had been a button to push on either page to instantaneously donate money to Haiti, I have no doubt that I would have pushed it without batting an eyelash. It made me wonder how we can live without guilt in a country of relative overall wealth, when thousands of people in other countries don't have a decent roof over their heads or clean water to drink. Most of the people of Haiti don't even have dime store flip-flops to wear on their feet. Or a level, rubble-free place to pitch their make-shift tents so that their meager belongings won't get flooded during the rainy season, which is soon to descend on the poverty stricken, building crumbled city of Port-Au-Prince, in the nation of Haiti, on the beautiful island of Hispaniola, which is located midway between Puerto Rico (a U.S. territory) and Cuba, practically right in our own backyard.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Idoits, Idiots, Idiots!!!

That's just the way I'm feeling right now. Everyone (except me, of course) and their brother is a bona fide idiot. These perceived idiocies are mainly related to transportation of one kind or another. Everyone who works for Budget Car Rental is an idiot, especially those who make Budget's idiotic policies. I won't EVER rent a car from Budget again. Obviously, I've had a few issues with Budget lately.

The driver who cut me off on Highway 280 the other day as I tried out my "new" (as in "new to me") 2005 Prius is an idiot. The people who come into the Quiet Room in the library (where I am now sitting) with their iPods turned up so loud the whole room can hear them right through their headphones are idiots. But the Grand Idiot Prize goes to the woman who was riding her bicycle yesterday in my neighborhood in San Jose, on the wrong side of the road, with no helmet on, with a BABY strapped to her chest in a baby sling (of course, the four or five month old infant wasn't wearing a helmet either). What was she thinking?

Let's be clear: I live in a pretty nice neighborhood, with people who make modest but decent salaries and have clearly graduated from high school. I also live on a very narrow street, where two cars sometimes have difficutly passing each other if cars are parked on both sides of the street. Two cars AND a bicycle are probably not going to be able to pass each other at the same time without damage to someone or something.

Background information: I have been hit by a car while on a bicycle, not once, but twice. Let me tell you, one has absolutely no protection on a bicycle. If you get seriously injured or killed, it doesn't matter who had the right of way. The first time I was hit while on my bike, I was standing at an intersection (with bike helment on), waiting to cross the very busy six lane El Camino Real when an older gentleman, in his 80s, made a right turn without looking to the right, and sent me and my bike flying smack into the middle of El Camino Real. Luckily for me, the timing of the traffic light two blocks away was in my favor and no cars slammed into me as I lay stunned in the middle of the road.

The second time I was hit, I was not so lucky. I was riding my bike home after work in a residential neighborhood on the peninsula before meeting my dad for dinner. My dad was in San Francisco on a business trip. I was seven months pregnant, which didn't stop me from riding my bike to work, even though I had been hit before while on a bicycle. After all, I had my trusty bike helmet on. But, as I was merrily riding the short distance to my home, I was hit by an elderly woman who was driving down the wrong side of the road. She was in insulin shock; she hit me and just kept on going. The cops caught her sitting in her car in diabetic stupor several blocks away. I ended up with a broken femur, two weeks in the hospital, major surgery, and ten months on crutches, not to mention a severely wrenched back and premature labor. This is a rather dramatic way to start out your life as a new mom; I really wouldn't recommend it. The baby turned out fine; babies in utero have the significant protection of their mother's hardened bellies and amniotic padding for a reason.

Somehow, I felt these two accidents of mine gave me the authority to give out advice to the cycling mom. So, I pulled up to the bike rider and yelled out the window "Get a helmet!" Actually, I didn't quite do that, but just about. I did pull up to the rider and lectured her that she should be wearing a helment since you cannot control the behaviors of motor vehicle drivers and that I had been hit twice myself (or something like that). What I wanted to do was call the cops and have them give her a ticket. A BIG ticket. Not only is it against the law for your child to not be wearing a helmet while riding a bike, it should also be considered a child endangerment issue.

After I delivered my message, the woman causally said to me "Yes, I know", like its no big deal. How does one get the message across? Stunned by the sight of an infant on a bike without a helmet, I was flabbergasted, and tongue-tied at her response. Later I was thinking that since I didn't seem to make much of an impression on this young woman, what else could I do? I could write to Mr. Roadshow of the San Jose Mercury News, and the incident might get some press, but I have a feeling that the folks who read Gary Richard's column are not the same people who need to be impressed by the seriousness of the situation. Then, I had an idea. What if someone posted a video on YouTube? Simulated, of course, with a baby doll instead of the real thing. Perhaps a video simulation of a near miss between a bicycle-riding-mama and a vehicle would scare some of the younger folks into taking the bike helmet issue seriously. Do you think my YouTube idea would get any "hits"?

With my luck, the police would be able to trace the video to its source and I would be the one arrested for child endangerment. Hmmm.....I might need to post the video with a warning that "no actual human babies were used in the making of this video".

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Life Is Unfair

I'm sure we've all heard this line before. It is unfair that mothers die before their children are grown. It is unfair for children to suffer from life-threatening diseases and die before they become adults. It is unfair to be a victim of molestation or assault. It is unfair to have your life savings wiped out by corporate greed. Yes, life is unfair. Even the weather is not fair (no pun intended). Tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, wildfires, blizzards, floods, and volcanic eruptions are all a fact of life on our ever-changing planet earth. I suppose I could just say "Get used to it" and be done with it, but somehow, I cannot.

I remember reading a heart wrenching story in the newspaper several years ago about a young boy who was attacked by a pit bull in Oakland. His face was mauled and his ears bitten off before he was rescued by a passerby. It still twists a knife in my heart to think of this poor boy being attacked by a vicious animal.

Quite recently, I changed my address. Sold my house, gave away most of my "stuff", and moved into a shared housing arrangement. Downsized in a major way. I can fit all of my belongings into the two large bedrooms rooms I now happily occupy.

My new housemate is a gregarious, energetic, enthusiastic woman in her forties. But her body is slowly failing her. The doctors cannot quite figure out what is wrong with her yet, but as she goes through test after test, she suspects the culprit might be MS (multiple sclerosis), a devastating disease that affects otherwise healthy young adults. It is a disease for which there is no cure. MS is "Life" shoving unfairness right up close and in your face.

Whoever coined the phrase "No one ever said life was fair" was absolutely right. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one, suffered from disability or disease, or was unable to have children knows this firsthand. For those you have not yet been touched by the unfairness of life, count your blessings. But don't expect your magic bubble of happiness to last forever. Life is very randomly and unpredictably unfair.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Pick Up Line

It used to be you met members of the opposite sex by hanging out in bars. But, times have changed. Today you meet men or women in cyberspace, either on Yahoo Personals or You can also meet them in person through a speed-dating system where you talk with someone for five minutes and then are moved on to the next person, in a kind of Russian roulette. And on rare occasion, you can meet someone in a cafe, standing in line at Starbucks while waiting for your perfect morning drink to be concocted by a barrista (which sounds so much better than having coffee served up by a waiter).

I met a few cuties today, in Starbucks. Two males, two females (at my age, I'm not picky). One of the females had a pink headband with a bright pink bow on top. Her eyes lit up and she smiled at just about anything I said to her. The other female had two short dark pigtails that stuck straight up and big eyes as dark and deep as a moonless night that just stared straight into mine. The two males, who appeared to be brothers, paid less attention to me, but were very cute. With pale skin, light brown hair and blue eyes, casually dressed, with flip-flops on their feet, they were talking and focused on their drinks in the styrafoam-subsititute coffee cups in front of them on the table while I stood in line to order. Unfortunately, they had left by the time I finished ordering my drink or I would have tried to strike up a conversation with them. But no, their mom was in a hurry, and scooped up the younger of the two while the older brother followed them out the door.

Weekday mornings at my local Starbucks is definitely the place to be to meet the younger generation. (What happened to all those folks who used to queue up at Starbucks before they headed off to work on weekday mornings?) I did strike up a conversation with the pink headband girl's mother outside the store, as we waited for the light on the corner to turn green. But, it is quite obvious to me that I am going to have to revamp my pick up lines if I actually want to take any of these cuties home with me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Its Not Easy Being Green

Its Not Easy Being Green...that was a slogan from Sesame Street, a song sung by Kermit the Frog. Remember Kermit? Remember that song? It was true for Kermit back then and it is true today for me. Its not easy being green; it takes effort, with a capital "E".

I bought a used Prius last weekend. I found one at a great price. When I told my family members I had bought a Toyota, they were agog. I could just about hear their eyeballs popping and their jaws dropping over the cell phone airwaves. "You bought WHAT? A Toyota? Are you kidding?" Yes, all that bad press about runaway vehicles, accelerators sticking, and no brake override - I have heard it all. I have read all about it, and I bought a Prius anyway. While there are a few real automobile problems out there, I think that Toyota has been given a bad rap. News organizations over-dramatize things in order to drum up business. Any story is a good story, especially a sensational headline news story, as long as it attracts viewers.

Is there a serious problem with the accelerator sticking in the Lexus ES that killed four people in a runaway vehicle? Yes, definitely. Does Toyota have a similar accelerator system in the Camry and Corolla? Yes. But, this accelerator system is NOT even used in the Prius. And, the SAME accelerator system is also used in some AMERICAN cars, because car "manufacturers" (I use the term loosely here) buy their parts from the same parts manufacturer that Toyota does. But, of course, this information has either not been disseminated by the news media, or is a footnote at best.

I feel comfortable with my purchase and with Toyota's explanations, which are available on its website at

PS. I just noticed that this column on "Being Green" is dated March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. How lucky is that?

Friday, March 12, 2010


The written word can get us into trouble. It is the source of many a lawsuit, employee dismissal, and marriage breakup. Interpretations of the written word have caused political and religious groups to fracture, business arrangements to fail and friends to part ways.

The written word can be initials carved out on a tree, graffitti spray-painted on a building, or "I love you" toe-painted in the sand. Written words can cause anguish and grief, peels of laughter, or squeals of excitement. Who among us hasn't received a "pink slip" at work, an email appended with jokes, or much anticipated high school grades in the mailbox? Birth announcements, college admissions, divorce papers, and "final will and testament" all contain written information that have the ability to evoke powerful emotions from the most stoic human being.

What is it about written words that allows them to become etched into the back of our minds? The cruel words of a former lover, the stinging job evaluation, a note of personal rejection - these all seem to have unique staying power. Once in writing, words retain a kind of permance that spoken words often do not. The spoken word seems to be more easily forgotten, unless recorded in a permanent form for us to review over and over and over again. It is that "over and over" part that etches certain strings of words and interpretations thereof into our brain. The words to a song, the quotes from a movie, or a line in a book seem to permeate our brain cells almost effortlessly; we can still recall them decades later when a familiar scene is viewed or tune is heard.

But what about those written words which we do not want to put away, or do not seem to be able to put away? An email from someone we once called a friend; the note from a former lover; a departed loved one's voice on an answering machine; a childish scrawl on a Mother's Day card. The more personal the relationship, the more difficult it is to forget certain words, words strung together like a chain of lustrous pearls, or like a heavy iron chain from Jacob Marley's ghost.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Green I Am

Today I received an email from the Sierra Club regarding two local talks on adopting low-energy practices in our daily lives. Most of us believe we are on the green bandwagon, and we talk the talk, but do we really walk the walk? I will find out for myself next week how green I am.

I have a new place to live in a shared housing arrangment with a single mom in her forties and her son, who is 22 and attending the local community college. He wants to double major in business and environmental science. Lofty goals, and I applaud him. He is big on recycling. But when I mentioned the possibility of planting some flowers in a large, brick-outlined circle of dirt in the backyard, he said he was planning to use the dirt circle for a fire pit. Huh? Isn't there a bit of a disconnect here? He wants to major in environmental science, but he does not see any conflict between his environmental philosophies and adding yet more wood smoke to our already polluted, very smoggy, suburban Bay Area air?

A bit later, I told him I'd help him out with some of the many on-going yard projects that he is working on, but I would not help out with the fire pit because I have asthma and wood smoke makes my asthma worse. This is the god's honest truth, but I hope the underlying message also gets through.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm In Love

He's a charmer. He's Asian (I never thought I'd fall for an Asian guy). He's a bit younger than I am, quiet and serious, short and pudgy. Intense brown eyes, a shock of black hair, cute little pink bowtie mouth. Not too athletic, more of a dreamer. His name is Gideon, and even though he spit up all over my nice clean shirt last night, I'm in love.

Meet the Neighbors

I took a walk this morning around the 'hood, the new neighborhood I've moved into in San Jose. The neighborhood is called "Willow Glen", although there are not any "willows" to be found, at least none that I have seen. I have seen occasional willow trees in the Bay Area, but I don't think willows are native to California. The only ones I've ever seen have been planted in city parks.

I woke up when the sun came up this morning, so I headed out for an early morning walk. It is very interesting to see people in the neighborhood who are out and about in the early morning, jogging, walking the dog, starting their cars, picking up the newspaper, checking on the weather...I had a chance to smile and say "hello" to many a fellow Willow Glennite. People were so friendly that it put a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

When I got to the "downtown" area of Willow Glen, I stopped in at Starbucks. Having thrown on sweats in a hurry after tossing back the covers, I had no cash with me, but the very nice people behind the counter at Starbucks made my regular Chai Tea Latte for me on a drink-now-pay-later basis. Nice. Downright neighborly in fact.

Yesterday, I had a terrible morning. I locked myself out of the house, dressed in nothing but sweat pants, a tee shirt and flip-flops in 50 degree weather. However, my predicament gave me a great excuse to get to know my neighbor across the street, Barry. When I was at my dad's house in Connecticut over the holidays, I also managed to lock myself out (I think I need fingerprint ID access; it would be pretty hard to lose my fingers) and met one of my dad's neighbors, Kevin, who lives a few houses down the street. Kevin and his family have lived just down the street from my dad for 13 years, but my dad has never met him. (I met Kevin's wife a few weeks later, when I needed to borrow a flashlight one wintry night...but that is another story.)

Laptops, the internet, email, cell phones - all of this modern technology is truly wonderful. It helps me stay in touch with my family and friends on the East Coast, across the ocean and on the other side of town. But I'll take an old fashioned walk around the neighborhood over a Facebook conversation any day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Halfway There

I'm halfway there. I did one of the two things I said I would do before writing anything more on my blogsite. I bought a laptop. However, it will be two weeks before it arrives via UPS or Fedex. (I sure hope it doesn't come via the U.S. Postal Service; my sister forwarded to me a package of mail via "Express Mail'; it took seven days to get to CA from NY and when it arrived, it was in pieces. I got one third of the mail that was originally inside the package; the rest was returned to my sister in NY. The note that came with my mail said "Unfortunately, we ripped your package to pieces; sorry for any inconvenience this might have caused you." The Postal Service wouldn't even give my sister her money back! In addition, she had to re-mail all of the pieces of mail that were returned to her. She mailed them via regular mail this time; regular mail usually only takes four days to get from coast to coast. She wrapped the mail in virtually indestructible bubble wrap-like super-packaging, before putting it in the official post office envelope. The postal service discouraged her from using the bubble wrap. Huh????? What is wrong with these people?)

So, for another two weeks or so, I am still tethered to the outside world via the library's computers, which were "down" yesterday in my neck of the woods, making contact with the outside world difficult. (No email, no Facebook, no instantaneous news feeds, no stock market quotes - what is a girl to do?) And this morning, I found out when I arrived at the branch, a few blocks from my home, that this local library doesn't open until 11:00 am on Tuesdays. So, this girl drove home and cleaned the bathroom for an hour. My house is cleaner, but my automobile research is farther behind.

Regardless, I have made some progress. You have to have some idea of what kind of car you want before you start your research project or you will be absolutely overwhelmed. New or used? Buy or lease? Cash or finance? Hummer or Prius? Family van, sports car, or sedan? U.S. car maker or foreign import? Decisions, decisions, decisions....

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to get locked out of my house while I was doing laundry. Locked out in a tee shirt and flip flops and sweat pants, in windy, rainy 50 degree weather. Neighbor Barry across the street was home, so we had a nice mug of tea while we talked cars. Now I have some idea of what I want. Buy. Used. Three to four years old. Reasonable mileage. Cash deal. Decent mpg. $10K (OK, maybe $12K). Small car. And, courtesy of Consumer Reports Online and, I have narrowed my search down to a few models. But have not yet made a final decision, or even test driven any vehicle. My final decision will depend on what is available right now, how the car drives, the condition of the interior, and what color it is. (No red, no black.) I've given myself two more weeks to make a decision.

I've driven many different models over the past six months during my forced sabbatical. I have been surprised by the improved performance of some car makers (Ford and Hyundai specifically). Meanwhile, Toyota is getting trounced in the press for brake and acceleration problems. While my first car was a Chevy Nova, which I dearly loved and regret having ever given away, I have driven a Toyota Corolla for most of my driving life.

My final decision may surprise even me. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I must take a leave of absence from my blog to get my life in order. I have moved (four times in the last six months) and hope that my most recent move is the last one for a while. I need to buy a new laptop, the old one having finally given up the ghost (literally - the screen now has several hairline fractures which are faintly visible when the lighting is just right; I can see but faint ghosts of my desktop icons on the screen).

And, I need to buy a car. Car rental rates are killing me, even at Budget and Rent-A-Wreck.

So, until I buy both a laptop and a vehicle, I am giving up blogging, at least for the rest of Lent. I will be happily awaiting the arrival of new laptop, new car and Easter Sunday.

Anyone know the exact date of Easter this year? I really hope Easter isn't early this year....

Friday, March 5, 2010


I am into Recycling lately. That would be specifically the recycling of books.

I am a buyer of books. Books line my shelves at home, at least the ones I have not given away to friends after reading them. I feel very strongly that the pages of those lonely books on the shelves should be fondled lovingly by other human hands. (I think I've stated as much in a previous post.)

I have been giving this much thought. There are a couple of bookstores that buy and sell used books that I've noticed lately. Of course, they have been around for years. Its just that I only recently noticed them, like pregnant women suddenly notice other pregnant women. Some of these used bookstores buy just about anything; others are more selective. I've found one used bookstore that you would swear was selling new books, the selection was that good and the books in excellent shape. I will be headed over there as soon as I take care of a few more items of pressing personal business, like buying a new laptop and a new car.

Yesterday, I came across another book exchange "find" at my local library - a corner in the library set up for donated books that one could buy for 50 cents (paperbacks) or a dollar (hard cover books). Of course, a lot depends on the selection available. But right there in front of me was a recent hard cover book that sells for $25 in the bookstore - an autobiography of Ted Kennedy, written by Ted (essentially) and published shortly after his death. I was able to buy it for one dollar, and I was thrilled.

So, many are the ways we can recycle in this world. With books - give them away, sell them to used bookstores (for bookstore credit), donate them to the library. It all works, and its all good. Only one question remains: which books do I consign to the used bookstore, and which do I donate to the library? It is going to be difficult to decide the fate of the book I recently finished reading -- the biography of Julia Child. Considering her love of education, perhaps this is one book that I should donate to the library.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


We all collect emotional baggage on our journey of life. Its not something that we try to do, it just happens, it sticks to us like cat hair sticks to your best silk dress. It starts in childhood, with emotional events that traumatize us -- dying grandparents, moving out of the neighborhood you grew up in, your parents' divorce, the death of a beloved pet, going to Catholic school to be taught by nuns, being embarassed in eighth grade (by just about anything), having your parents forget your sixteenth birthday, etc. If you are a lucky child, those are fairly typical childhood traumas. The unlucky ones are neglected, verbally abused, beaten, and molested.

We all carry "baggage". Not only from our childhoods but also from our experiences as adults. First dates and blind dates, personal ads and stalkers, heartbreaks and breakups, marriage and divorce. Divorce, separation, breaking up - this is about as painful as life gets. These experiences, burned into our pysches like hot branding irons, leave us with scars in order to teach us something, so we don't put our hand in the fire a second time. However, some of us don't learn our lessons fast enough and get burned multiple times.

This being the case, I am mystified to find in the personal ads of today (Yahoo,, etc) many ads written by men specifically stating that they are looking for women with "no baggage". If you are an adult, you have baggage, if nothing else, from your childhood. And unless you lived most of your adult life under a rock, you have lots of baggage.

I am pretty sure that Pollyanna is not searching for a relationship on or Yahoo personals. We all have "stuff"; its what makes life interesting. We have strange relatives, wacky in-laws, rebellious teenagers, horrible exs, overly demanding bosses, rude customers, nasty neighbors, senile parents, wicked step-mothers, etc, etc, etc. If you have relationships with other people, you have baggage. Period.

I do not think that men should be looking for women who have absolutely no baggage. Instead, I think they should take the time to find out how a woman handles the baggage that has hitched a ride on her coattails. To tell you the truth, I wouldn't want to be with a guy who has "no baggage". Mr. "No Baggage Here" is either emotionally stunted, unable to commit, or a hermit on a deserted island. I'll take my chances with Mr. "Baggage Under Reasonable Control" instead.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eight Minutes

What can I possibly write about in eight minutes? That's how much time I have left today on my public library session, after checking email, Facebook, and editing the last blog I posted. Eight minutes is not much time at all. And I still have to look up some information on the wonderful world wide web of knowledge. (Yes, the Great Oz knows all.)

What started out as a well intentioned session to spend some quality time on "Mrs. Brown", has turned into a few minutes rambling. No matter; maybe I'll go home and take a nap instead.

I am not by nature a "napper". Some people can nap during the day, and sleep fine at night. Me, I nap during the day, then I'm wide awake at night, unable to fall asleep for hours. But lately, I find that I can take a nap, and fall asleep at night easily. Have I become so old that I need a daily nap? I hope not. I was saving that for my 80s.